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The T-Brigade

The result was that in the last months of 1945 there were a few OVW Battalions and a huge group of members of the GBI without weapons and some thousand former POW from KNIL who had been evacuated from Siam and had found a non-volunteerly home here. They waited week after week on the order to pack and be shipped away to their end destination. Then at the end of the year there started to come some light over it. There was made a kind of organization. A kind of organization was made. A Dutch Headquarter was formed in Kuala Lumpur, which started to form 3 Brigades named T, U, and V, which it was decided should take over from the British in Indië. Commanders of the Brigades were found and a training schedule put together. The Battalions also got Indian officers as advisors. For the half of the Infantry Battalions were used personnel from KNIL and GBI were used and in the end also to all the support duties.

Concerning the T-Brigade which this is about got 2-13 R.I., 2-6 R.I. and both Battalions Stoottroepen 1st and 3rd. The preparations were so far in January 1946 that the T-Brigade on 15th January could be formed at least on paper following Brigade order Number 1. The units it consisted of were not stationed together. The Staff stayed in Kuala-Lumpur from the end of January in Charley Beach (Port Dickson), 2-13 in Serdang, 2-6 in Morib, 1 R.S. in Port Dickson and 7th R.S. in Dusun Tua. This was the biggest area the Brigade had occupied until now.

While the Battalions went on exercises in the nearby exercise places was the Staff and support units put together piecemeal and put on full strength with the help of personnel from GBI and LSK who came from Penang and Singapore plus former KNIL POW who was transferred to Port Dickson.

And of those who arrived and not yet was assigned anywhere had the daily pleasures at Charley Beach, which goes with forming a Brigade. It gives no meaning just to pass it. There was a lot of speaking and were working very hard to reach the goal the rebuilding of a new army with which they could travel to India.

As it often goes there were alarms and notits that now they were underway. And then at the last moment it was all cancelled. Then on 5th February the 3rd R.S. (later to become 7th R.S.) went to Port Swettenham where it went aboard ship with the destination Banka. The first Dutch OVW unit to be put into action at the Archipelago. The other Battalions looked at them with secret jealousy. Shortly after it was detached from the T-Brigade.

An important occasion for the Brigade happened on 14th February when it got the first vehicles. With which it right away started some intensive exercises: New drivers have to be educated, the capacities made better and they had to learn to drive in the left side.

On 16th February the command of the Brigade went from Colonel S. De Waal who had commanded it from the creation (and later become commander of B Division) to Colonel in the Infantry KNIL D. R. A. Langen. When he visited his troops for the first time he could conclude that they were in a good condition. This in the light of bad post exchanges, not being paid regularly, not enough cloth and even though there was some bad talking back in the Netherlands. Everybody high as low worked hard to get the necessary training which as they found out after leaving Malacca was so important.

While the Brigade stayed in Malacca it was overwhelmed with orders – The Dutch troops was under British Supervision – which all were either “cancelled” or “postponed”. The original destination for the T-Brigade (Palembang) was changed. On 21st February 1946 the 2-6 R.I. got orders to make ready. This task was redrawn. And instead the 2-13 R.I. had to make ready for shipment abroad. This was on 22nd the same day as 50 drivers travelled to Singapore by train and arrived at the Brigade in Semarang 3 weeks later. On the 25th February the order from the 13th was cancelled because there were no ships ready to transfer the Battalion. At the same day arrived a detachment KNIL troops from Balikpapan arrived. On the 26th was the shipment of the 2-13 R.I. was suddenly made possible and the Battalion was transferred to Port Swettenham where on the 28th it went onboard the “Valentijn" from the KPM . One company had to be left behind. With the fifth company the boat was more than filled. They were later sent to Singapore and went onboard the “Marika” and made the trip from this town to Semarang by Semarang and Tandjong Priok! In this way one Battalion at last was underway.

On 1st March they got the information that on the 4th two ships would be ready with a capacity to ship 1800 men in all which meant it would not be possible to transfer the rest of the Brigade in one move. After a lot of weighing for and against it was finally decided which troops had to be left behind. On the 3rd 3 LCT was loaded with equipment to be sent out to the ships. On the 4th March came the usual order that the Dutch troops were not going anywhere and their luggages had to be taken of the ships again. This happened the day after.

On the 6th March – yes which day happened what! – they received an order to...... what was they up to? Oh yes now they were underway..... This day they received information that on the 8th March a ship would arrive in Port Dickson, which could take 1600 men onboard. Movement Control in Singapore (the English CMV) was of the opinion it was up to them which units had to go. While the Brigade Commander was of the opinion the decision was up to him. And because of this he made heavy protest against it.

The ship really arrived it was the “Sommeldijk”. When it lay outside Port Dickson on the 8th March it was visited at 8.00AM by the Brigade Commander who saw it could take 300 men more than planned. And then he decided which units were to be put aboard. At the same day the embarkation was started. The day after at 8.00AM it was ready and a half an hour later the anchor was taken home and it was underway cur’s south destination unknown.

The following day it was made known that Semarang was the destination for the trip. The following day after an uneventful trip it arrived at 13.30 but nothing more happened. The day after an Allied liaison-mission went onboard to inform about the duties in Semarang. They found out that the 2-13 R.I. had arrived on 9th March and already had taken over an Battalion area from the Japanese. It was stationed in Djatingaleh. Beside this Semarang was occupied by the English 5th Paratroops Brigade with a few Indian units. That the situation in the town was quiet and they tried not to wear arms during the day and the English wanted to move out as fast as possible.....

On 12th March at 10.30AM they started to go ashore. During the day the Brigade staff, field mail unit, communication unit 2-6 R.I. and part of 1st R.S. finally put foot on land. The Staff was stationed in Makamdowo, 2-6 R.I. in the Protestantism orphan house in Bodjong, 1 R.S. in the Nillmij building in Herenstraat. The day after the rest of 1st R.S. the MT Company and the MP came ashore. This last went to live in Makamdowo and the MP at the Hôtel Central in Bodjong.

With this the T-Brigade had arrived at the Indian soil and it could finally start with the task for which it was created. A difficult task since the units still were not put together as one. They had one thing in common a good beginning, their good desire and use all their strength for the task.....

On 12th March at 10.30AM they started to go ashore. During the day the Brigade staff, field mail unit, communication unit 2-6 R.I. and part of 1st R.S. finally put foot on land. The Staff was stationed in Makamdowo, 2-6 R.I. in the Protestantism orphan house in Bodjong, 1 R.S. in the Nillmij building in Herenstraat. The day after the rest of 1st R.S. the MT Company and the MP came ashore. This last went to live in Makamdowo and the MP at the Hôtel Central in Bodjong.

With this the T-Brigade had arrived at the Indian soil and it could finally start with the task for which it was created. A difficult task since the units still were not put together as one. They had one thing in common a good beginning, their good desire and use all their strength for the task.....


The harbour in Semarang

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[1] OVW mean Oorlogsvrijwilliger or someone who volunteer for war duty.
[2] GBI mean Gezag Battalion Indie or Task Battalion India.
[3] POW mean Prisoner of War.
[4] KNIL mean Koninklijke Netherlands Indie Leger or Roual Dutch India Army.
[5] LSK mean Luchtstrijdkrachten zonder vliegtuigen or Air Force with no airplanes.
[6] KPM Koninklijke Pakketvaart Maatschappij a Dutch Liner firm

Part 3

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